ON THE CHANGE OF REFBANGIBILITY OF LIGHT.
sequence. But by this trifling sacrifice two very great advantages are gained. The first is increase of illumination. When the slit is vertical, the spectrum received on the body occupies a rectangle having for breadth the length of the image of the slit; but when it is horizontal, the same, or very nearly the same, quantity of light is concentrated into a rectangle having the same length as before (the length of the image of the slit being disregarded compared with that of the spectrum), but having for its breadth only the length of the image of a line drawn across the slit. Hence the intensity of the incident light is increased in the ratio of the breadth to the length of the slit. The second advantage is purity in the derived spectrum, a point of much consequence, because sometimes the composition of this spectrum presents very remarkable peculiarities. If the slit be not too long, the spectrum formed in air is still sufficiently pure to allow us to make out in a general way what are the refrangibilities of those portions of the incident light which are most efficient in producing dispersed light; and this is nearly all that can be done even when the spectrum is very pure.
108. The method of observation which has just been described is that which latterly I have almost exclusively employed in examining opaque substances. As it will be convenient to have a name for it, I shall speak of examining a substance in a linear spectrum. In examining substances which are only slightly sensitive, it is often highly advantageous to cover the slit with a blue glass.
109. Fig. 5 is intended to represent the usual appearance of the primary linear spectrum, and of the primitive and derived spectra. XY is the primary spectrum, as seen by the naked eye, RV, ST are the primitive and derived spectra into which it is separated by the prism held to the eye. The direction of the shading in RV is intended to represent the composition of this spectrum, which may be regarded as consisting of an infinite number of images of the slit arranged obliquely in the order of their refrangibility. The direction of the shading in ST is that of the lines of the same colour and same refrangibility. Of course the figure does not represent the amount of vertical displacement of the primary spectrum when viewed through the prism held to the eye.